Princess Way, Haverhill, Suffolk CB9 9BP
A carefully-considered design of the early twenty-first century, with a light and welcoming interior. The building sits well in and provides a focus to its post-war residential setting.
In 1925 The Tablet reported ‘a sale recently organized at Haverhill, Suffolk, by Mesdames Burrell, Farrow and Miller, in aid of the funds for providing a public chapel in that town, realized a profit of £45. For the past two and a half years Mass has been celebrated at Haverhill in a private house’. However it was not until 1938 that this goal was realised, in the form of a wooden hut in what is now Horace Eves Close.
After the Second World War, the town expanded with several estates of London overspill housing. The Parkway Estate was the first of these, developed by the London County Council from 1957. A church of utilitarian design was built in Princess Way in 1964, and the Grade II-listed former Corn Exchange in Withersfield Road was later used as a parish centre. By 2010 the church in Princess Way had reached the end of its useful life. It was replaced in 2011-12 by a new church on the same site, seating 280 and funded in part by the sale of the former Corn Exchange in c.2006. The new church was designed by the NPS Group of Norwich.
The main body of the church is a half-octagon on plan, covered by a monopitch slate roof, with a lower forebuilding which is square on plan, flat-roofed and with a projecting glazed entrance canopy. The walls are faced with white brick. The forebuilding contains a foyer, WCs and meeting rooms, while a lean-to projection from the sanctuary houses confessionals and sacristies etc. At the junction of the forebuilding and the main worship space is a tall rendered drum or funnel, its angled top bearing a metal cross.
Inside, a circular space under the drum serves as a transitional zone between the foyer area and the main worship space, and has at its centre a polished granite font, from Sebastian Comper’s church of Our Lady Immaculate and St Etheldreda, Newmarket (information from Fr Smith at Newmarket). Above the font hangs a 5m abstract glass sculpture by Derek Hunt. From here, curved glass sliding doors lead into the main space, in which the ceiling rises up to the sanctuary. The roof structure is steel framed with zig-zag timber acoustic boarding in between. The seating (reused oak benches) is arranged around the half octagonal sanctuary dais, with a granite forward altar also an importation from Newmarket.
Architect: NPS Group
Original Date: 2011
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed